Sankirtana: the ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur occupies a place in the Representative List of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This ritual is mostly performed in the temples of Manipur during any religious occasions. Mostly performed in the temples of Manipur, the performers of Sankirtana narrate the lives and deeds of Lord Krishna through their song and dance sequences. The intense devotion and energy is clearly visible in the performances, and it’s hardly surprising that the spectators are moved to tears while watching them.
In a performance of Sankirtana, two drummers accompanied by ten singer-dancers perform in a hall or a domestic courtyard, with the devotees seated around the performers. During the performance of Sankirtana, male dancers play the Pung and Kartal while dancing. Choloms, which are considered to be the masculine aspect of the dance, are a part of Sankirtana.
There are two main social functions which Sankirtana fulfills. One is that it helps in bringing the people together during festive occasions throughout the year and also strengthens the bond within Manipur’s Vaishnava community. The second function which it fulfills is that it reinforces the bond between the individual and the community through life-cycle ceremonies. It is widely believed that the performance of this dance is in essence, a visible manifestation of God.